Laine Lawson Craft encourages parents not to give up on their prodigal child and offers strategies, based on her personal experiences, on how to help their child who's left the faith.
In her new book, The Parent’s Battle Plan: Warfare Strategies To Win Back Your Prodigal, Craft shares past struggles she and her husband faced while raising their three children and how they made it through their battles with spiritual warfare.
Children, teens and young adults are facing similar battles today, according to Craft, which is leading many to stray from their Christian roots, spiraling into a world of confusion. To combat the enemy's schemes, Craft shares tips parents can employ during some of their most challenging times.
“I personally had three teenage prodigals that now are also whole, freed young adults,” Craft told The Christian Post. "I really felt a pressing in my heart to write a book that would help other parents. Because today, there is an all-out assault on our young children and adults."
Craft said her daughter, Kaylee, struggled with severe depression for a year, from age 17 to 18, which led to her rejecting God.
“I did not realize how dark her depression had become. She had felt distant from God."
The issue was that Kaylee was finding her identity "in a Solo cup" — partying, Craft said. That was making her popular but it was leaving her empty and led her to a place of questioning who she was in God and who He created her to be. Her bad decisions led her down a destructive path. But God redeemed her.
"There was a point where she and her friend were sitting in the car and she was bawling and crying,” Craft said. “And she cried and said, ‘I don't even know if I want to live anymore. These voices in my head are telling me life would be better without me.’ And this young woman that was a friend grabbed her hands and they both began to pray."
According to Craft, when Kaylee and her friend prayed together, "Kaylee said the presence of God touched her so profoundly that her tears instantly dried, and there was a warmth inside that just enveloped her. And she was forever changed and delivered from depression.”
Craft said that with her son Lawson, she witnessed him distance himself from God during his battle with drug and alcohol addiction from the ages of 14 to 24.
“One day, he and his friends went out early in the morning to a boat, and while they didn't consume a lot of alcohol or drugs, there was a shift in Lawson’s personality at about 11 that morning and they brought him home,” Craft described.
“And for the next 12 to 18 hours, my son was basically out of control. And he had an almost 24-hour period where he almost died in several ways because of him not being in his right mind. And my husband actually spent the night with him."
Craft went on to explain, "The next morning when he woke up to see his father sitting on the couch, Lawson said at that moment, 'I know that that was the enemy out to steal, kill and destroy me and I will never miss another second of my life and not remember another second of my life.' And he was forever changed from that point forward.”
Porn and drugs
Craft said although two of her children were delivered by God, she spent “more than 15 years on my knees praying” for her eldest son, Steven's deliverance to come to pass. Steven's struggles, she said, lasted from 12 to 28.
“My third son was exposed to porn at 12 or 13. And he believes that was the gate of darkness that led him down a very long trail of evil and sin. And he battled with drugs, alcohol and womanizing,” Craft recalled. “And we prayed and prayed for years. Around the 15th year of praying, Steven was actually at a bar high on cocaine, and he called an Uber driver. And the Uber driver came and picked him up. And what Steven didn't know was his Uber driver was a minister from a foreign country, and he felt led to pray for Steven.”
“And so, Steven said, ‘Sure, you can pray for me.’ And the Uber driver began to pray for Steven. The presence of God was so heavy in this Uber driver that Steven said he fell to his face. It felt like the whole car filled with God. … And he was just crying and crying. And what was powerful about that is Steven was probably at the darkest pit of his life and yet, God used an Uber driver to reach out and rescue and deliver my son.”
Before her children accepted Jesus, Craft said she faced some of the most challenging years of her life because she was constantly worried about her children's salvation.
“One of the things that I often share is — when I was writing this book — is that it was difficult at times because of my broken heart. You know, there's just no words for when a mother is just so saddened with the self-destructive choices or the repeated betrayal coming from her own children,” Craft said.
“I coped by first realizing some of the points I put in the book. And one of the points that I quickly started realizing is that I was not at war with my children. I was at war with the enemy of the dark world, the lure of all that they are trapped by today. … I was at war with the enemy after them. And then, I think the second most important thing is, I did have a revelation from the Lord early on to pray for my children.”
Craft said one of the best strategies to “win back your prodigal” son or daughter is to relentlessly and consistently pray without ceasing for the child.
While there are many ways to pray for children who have gone astray, Craft said she had a special way in which she prayed for her children.
“I'm kind of an artist in my mind. So in my mind, I took a paintbrush covered in the blood of Christ and I would paint in my mind the blood of Christ on the back of each one of my children. And when I painted it, I would say: ‘Father God, in the name of Jesus and the blood of Christ, please protect Steven, please protect Lawson, please protect Kaylee and give them your wisdom,'” Craft illustrated. “I realized God's wisdom is all they needed for His protection. And so, I would pray that. But it was that paintbrush soaked with the blood of Jesus that I know kept me encouraged that God would come through, in His blood.
“And so, the big question that I ask parents today, not to condemn them, but to convict them is: ‘Are you praying for kids?’”
It’s important for parents to remember what they're up against when it comes to demonic spiritual warfare, according to Craft.
“It says in the Scriptures that demons are searching from East to West for who they can prey on. And so, I think that's the biggest thing parents can learn out of this, is, looking at the dark army of the evil of the earth,” Craft said.
“That's the demons’ whole job down here is to blind our children so they can't see the light — to oppress our children, deceive our children, lower our children. The ‘enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10) these children today, even their destinies,” she continued. “The enemy can lure you early on into mistakes that cost you your destiny. He wants kids to get hooked on drugs. He wants them to be depressed and question their self-worth, all of those things.”
In addition to praying to God, Craft said parents should also partner with God and discipline their children. Sometimes, she said, discipline requires a parent to communicate their concerns to their children. This can be done through words, actions or deeds, Craft noted.
“I really urge parents today, specifically at any age of the child, to go to God and partner with God on what is the best way to discipline their child because each child is unique. Each one of my children, I could look at them ... and they knew that I meant business," Craft said. "But when it came to some of my children, I had to threaten them. I believe children must know that we are the authority. And so, that does mean we have to discipline because kids aren't going to be perfect. So, you do have to have discipline in the house."
Craft said parents need to have a balance between being a friend to their children, but also being an appropriate caregiver and authority figure over their children.
"My point to parents is, and I say it in my book, a child might say: 'I hate you. You're not letting me go to that party. Everybody else is going.' But you know what? That should show a parent that they are doing the right thing," Craft said. "Because even Jesus said that, as Christ's followers, as obedient servants of Christ, we as parents are to be obedient to God by being parents that were created for the purpose of stewarding their children because God has entrusted us to them," she added.
"We're not going to be the most popular parents if we go against the grain. And that might make it another element harder, because not only are our kids angry at us, but we're also kind of fighting against the grain of culture.”
Parents should also actively communicate with their children, Craft said, by making it a priority to know what is going on in their daily lives by asking more questions.
"Even though we're being rejected and all, we just have to continue to try to be good to our children, like God. Because it's through the goodness of God and the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. Self-control is a big one. It's the last fruit of the Spirit," she said.
Another strategy that Craft said can "win back your prodigal child" is, with two-parent households, guardians should remain united on how to raise and discipline their children.
"I believe in the Scripture that says, 'A house divided fails and falls.' So parents, you're on the same team," Craft stressed. "You're not enemies. You're not opponents. So yes, make a game plan for your family. Sit down and say, 'Listen, let's meet and you and I can pray once a week together as husband and wife and as mom and dad."
"A once-a-week prayer meeting for parents is also a good time for parents to evaluate the rules in their house. I found, in my failures as a parent, that each season brings new rules."
When parents are united in admitting their children have turned away from God, Craft said that having that united front can help bring parents even closer to one another and to God.
"Collectively, as a mom and dad with prodigal children, get together as often as you feel you need to and say, 'Listen, our rules are not working or our kids are sneaking out or they come in and out whenever they want to.' And maybe a rule you can create could be that your children are required to go to church with you," Craft said.
"Being on the same page makes the mom and dad more of a team. It brings them closer, oddly. Because you're realizing that you're a team and you need each other to help your kids."
'No child is too far gone'
To parents who have completely lost all hope in God to restore their prodigal children, Craft said they should keep in mind that "no child is too far gone for God's mercy and grace."
"There was a time that I'd prayed so many years and Steven had failed. And it looked just hopeless that he was ever going to turn back to the faith and values that we pray for and live in our lives. But what God proved to me was, No. 1, no child has ever gone too far astray for God to catch them and to pursue them," Craft said.
"And secondly, that one touch from God can instantly change everything. So, to that parent that might have been praying for 30 years for a child who overdoses or is addicted to alcohol or has a pornography problem or a drug problem: don't ever give up hope. Because as long as we're standing in the gap, and we're spiritually warring and praying for that child, we stand expectantly and hope that God will touch them, and it will change their lives."
Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.